Story written by Vivian Campos
A former BYU-Idaho student and a current BYU-I student are working on building an aquarium in Idaho Falls.
Ball Ventures, an Idaho-based real estate company, donated a location for the East Idaho Aquarium. Arron Faires, a BYU-I alumnus, and Ryan Andersen, a senior studying computer information technology, are the creators of the project.
“We have done research on it for three years,” Faires said about the aquarium project. “In August, we started getting partnerships. It has been a work in progress.”
Faires said he studied business management at BYU-I, but he also took some biology classes. He has a partnership with Andersen.
“Things have really started to pick up in the last few months,” Andersen said. “After we started working on getting partnerships, we went out and looked at different properties, and we originally wanted to just find an old building that we could decorate and make it our own.”
Andersen said there was nothing good available for the location, especially in the area they were looking at in Idaho Falls. He said everything was old and needed more work than it would be worth paying. Ball Ventures offered a location, and they accepted.
“Now we are just waiting on other things,” Andersen said. “Developers and trying to get costs together before we start the building itself.”
Faires said one of the biggest reasons for them to build the aquarium in Idaho Falls is to educate the area, since they live so far from the ocean.
“Educate this area,” Faires said. “Most people that grow up think, ‘What am I going to do? I can work as a farmer or rancher,’ so it gives them something that other places like California and Florida that can say, ‘I can be a marine biologist,’ so it brings other opportunities for kids.”
Andersen said they want to bring a different mind-set to Idaho. He said people here do not see the ocean like people in California, Florida or Texas do.
“It is a public aquarium,” Andersen said. “It’s like a zoo with mainly aquatic animals. In this area, we need more attractions like that. So, it’s something unique for the area, and we are really excited.”
Faires said people in Idaho mostly get their information about the ocean from National Geographic.
“Hopefully we’ll spark more interest than National Geographic would,” Andersen said.
Faires said the aquarium will have sharks, and the tank will be big enough that people will be able to swim with them.
“We are in the process of finding people to help us start it,” Andersen said. “Arron has been going around to businesses and asking if they are interested in sponsoring us for this project.”
The aquarium already has several tanks that are ready, according to the East Idaho Aquarium Web site.
“It would be very helpful to have something like that because we live in an area that is very far from the ocean, and many people don’t have access to those things,” said Evely Pereira, a senior majoring in international studies.
She said the aquarium would be a good opportunity to learn more about the oceans and the animals.
“There aren’t many things we can do in Rexburg,” Pereira said. “We could go to Idaho Falls, and, if there are more options of what to do, then that would be great.”
Julia Sá, a sophomore studying communication, said bringing an aquarium to Idaho Falls would be very beneficial to the population because it can create more jobs and more opportunities for recreation.
“On the other hand, I think we have to think about the structure of this aquarium and if it’s going to be beneficial for the animals, if they will be taken care of, if it will be organized and if they will have enough space so they can have a good quality of life,” Sá said.
She said it would be very interesting to see those animals and see how they live. She said people could invest in learning more about preservation.
“We don’t have a lot of options when it comes to fun in this area,” Sá said.
Sá said she thinks people should sponsor the aquarium because it is a great opportunity for people here in Idaho.
“For the most part, we are ready and looking for the money and people who want to help,” Andersen said.